Pretoria – A husbands’s claims that he will not share half of his pension fund with his now ex-wife as part of their divorce settlement because, he said, she has a gambling problem and will thus squander his hard-earned money fell on deaf ears with the court.
The wife (who cannot be named in divorce proceedings) turned to the Johannesburg High Court for an order of divorce, which included that 50% of her husband’s pension benefits from the State, where he was employed, be paid over to her as they were married in community of property.
But the husband was adamant that she deserved nothing because, apart from her “gambling problem”, she did not cook and wash his clothes as a good wife was meant to do.
He asked the court to order the forfeiture of her entitlement to half of his pension, worth about R3 million. The parties were married for nearly 22 years.
The wife made it clear that they had “lost love for each other” and she wanted nothing more to do with him.
She also claimed that he physically and mentally abused her, and that he even made death threats towards her.
The husband, on the other hand, complained that the breakdown of the marriage was due to her heavy gambling. He testified that she also failed to take care of the children, and he had to do his own washing and cooking.
Other complaints were that she also stopped intimate relations with him and that she had the tendency to leave home once a month on a Friday morning and return on Monday morning. This practice, he said, this occurred around the 25th of each month when she received her salary.
The wife, meanwhile, testified that she had a life-threatening illness in 2014 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. During this time, she was depressed due to the illness and by the lack of support from her husband.
She claimed he stopped being interested in her when she fell ill.
She said she was severely ill from the chemotherapy and therefore could not cook or clean for him.
The husband told court that he was not informed about her treatment and was therefore unaware of her illness. He also never noticed that her hair fell out from the treatment.
But the court frowned upon this, saying she was a dependant on his medical aid, thus he should have known that she had cancer.
The wife also testified that he abused her during the marriage, which included breaking her arm when he kicked her. The husband, in turn, said he was only defending himself when he tried to prevent his wife throwing boiling water on to him.
He was kicking the dish of boiling water and not her arm, he explained.
When the wife went to her father-in-law for advice, he told her that in their culture a woman should preserve the family peace and keep the family together. Her father-in-law reprimanded his son to refrain from physical and verbal abuse and to be a responsible man, she said.
The husband left the matrimonial home after his wife obtained a protection order against him.
He testified that another reason why he would not share his pension was that the wife never shared a cent with him when she got her benefits upon leaving her two previous jobs. He claimed she also used this to feed her gambling addiction and never contributed anything to the household.
The wife, however, gave a long list of things she did with her money, such as paying for the children’s school fees, buying clothes for the family and supplementing their grocery needs monthly.
While the court accepted her explanation, Acting Judge Rochelle Francis-Subbiah said the husband did not produce a shred of evidence that his wife had a gambling addiction.
He in fact admitted that he only knew of two times when she had gambled during their years of marriage. The wife said she gambled for entertainment when they went on a trip. This would happen twice in a year. She said her husband gave her money to gamble.
The court found the wife was entitled to half of her husband’s pension.